Getting Down to Business Newsletter - November 2013
November 01, 2013 | Liz Ben-Ishai
Getting Down to Business: News on Employers and Paid Leave
In this Issue
Getting Down to Business is CLASP's monthly update on the latest news about business and paid leave. If you have news you want to share with your colleagues around the country, let us know.
New Jersey is a hotbed of earned sick days activity this fall, and business support is playing a key role in its successes. Last month, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop signed the city’s earned sick days bill into law at Helen’s Pizza. Owner Steven Kalcanides, a supporter of the new law, says he’s always given his workers sick days because it’s the right thing to do. He adds, “What’s great about this law is that it will keep businesses that don’t provide their workers sick days from undercutting businesses like mine.” Meanwhile, in Newark, the largest city in the state, the City Council voted unanimously to introduce an earned sick days ordinance. Justyna Stachowicz, owner of Art Kitchen in Newark, said of the policy: “I think you’re saving money doing this, because what if the person comes and makes other people sick?...It’s just healthier for everyone to do something like this.”
In Vermont, advocates are keeping a steady drumbeat of support for earned sick days alive with the publication of numerous supportive op-eds in local media. Michele Kropp, co-owner of Gringo Jack’s Bar and Grill in Manchester, VT, acknowledges that the high cost of turnover plays a role in her thinking about sick days. She writes, “[S]mall business owners know that the cost of replacing an employee is much more expensive than paying for a modest amount of sick time and retaining good people.” But while the benefits to her business matter, Kropp ultimately supports sick days because “it’s simply the right thing to do.” In another piece, Vermont State Senator Anthony Pollina wrote, “Vermont employers know how valuable long-term, committed workers are to growing a business, and they know healthier workers work better.” These op-eds, along with others, show that Vermonters understand the importance of this crucial workplace protection!
Steve Grossman is not only treasurer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a candidate for governor; he’s also a business owner. So his support for the earned sick days bill in Massachusetts speaks to his understanding of what it takes to run a profitable and sustainable business. In a recent op-ed, Grossman wrote, “At Grossman Marketing Group, we took care of our workers and provided generous paid leave. Why? Because the most important asset we had were the women and men who came to work every day. Treating workers with the dignity and respect they deserve produces great companies.” Read more >>
More than 140 business leaders, restaurant workers, advocates, public health professionals, and Washington, D.C. residents signed up to testify before a recent joint committee of the city council on proposed minimum wage and earned sick and safe leave legislation. Included among those testifying was Belinda Sheppard, owner of Flava At Wa-Zo-Bia, a LeDroit Park neighborhood restaurant and lounge. Sheppard cited concerns over public health. "The main reason I support earned sick days is the risk of food-borne illness," she stated. "Coming to work sick can affect customers and employees." Keith Mestrich, senior vice president of Amalgamated Bank, explained that not mandating earned sick leave "places employers like Amalgamated Bank, who are trying to do the right thing, at a competitive disadvantage." In addition to the employers who testified in person, several other D.C. business owners submitted written testimony in support of the bill, including Marcia Finn, owner of Bright Start Child Care, and David Deal, CEO of Community IT Innovators. Read more >>
In D.C., a better sick days bill will be better for business, a new study suggests. Extending earned sick days to D.C.’s tipped workers and eliminating the one year waiting period to use sick days for all employees will save the city’s employers more than $1.9 million, according to a briefing paper from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The authors of the paper estimate that 20,306 tipped workers would gain access to earned sick days if the bill passes. Read more >>
At Social Venture Network’s (SVN) fall conference in Baltimore, business leaders gathered to learn more about how they can get engaged in policy issues. CLASP joined a panel with several business leaders and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) to discuss why it’s so important for business owners to engage in the policy process, how they and their businesses can benefit from involvement, and what that involvement entails. The panel showcased the crucial role that businesses can play in issue areas like paid leave, changing the dominant narrative about “business interests” that often discounts the importance of improved job quality for both employees and employers. SVN is a co-sponsor of the website “Better Workplaces, Better Businesses.” Learn more about SVN >>
At an “Empowerment Forum” in Maryland, hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Barbara Mikulski, and Congresswoman Donna Edwards, community members joined a conversation about House Democrats’ Economic Agenda for Women and Families. The Agenda includes both paid sick days and paid family and medical leave. At the event, Mimi Hassanein, owner and operator of three child care centers, said that sick days save her business money. Hassanein, who has been a supporter of the Maryland sick days campaign, said, “If one of my workers comes to work sick, they can get the children sick. I would rather pay her for sick leave then for her to get my children and other workers sick.” Read more >>
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